Checklist for building your own home

Written by dennis hartman
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Checklist for building your own home
Many of the requirements for building a home come before construction even begins. (construction image by Sandra Henderson from

Choosing to build your own home opens up a series of advantages, from being able to choose the specific location to making small decisions about details that will result in a house that fits your needs perfectly. However, building your own home is also a complicated and costly undertaking. Knowing the steps of the process is essential to having a positive home building experience.

Create a Budget

Creating a budget is one of the first and most important steps to the home building process. At every step of the process you'll be asked what your price limits are, from buying the land to commissioning the design and paying for construction. Choose a budget that doesn't stretch your resources too thin. Work with your financial planner to determine whether building your own home is feasible based on your financial situation.

Get a Plot Plan

When you purchase a piece of land to build on you'll be issued a plot plan. This includes an assessment of the plot, along with the specific boundaries. Building at the edge of your plot can be a costly risk, especially if such construction violates local building codes. Make sure that you know where you can build before moving forward.

Choose a Design

Settling on a home design is one of the most exciting steps in the process. You may want to start with your own design, then begin looking at pre-existing home designs for guidance. One of the advantages of building your own home is choosing the placement of rooms and architectural details, but most home builders lack the engineering knowledge to get everything right without help. Even so, putting your ideas into a sketch is a good way to communicate your ideal home to others.

Get Financing

Financing is an essential element. Knowing how much you can spend depends on the current market interest rates, your income, your expected future income, the amount of your down payment, your other assets and your debts. Your credit history will ultimately determine the mortgage rates available to you. Be sure to stay within your budget while securing enough financing to build a home you'll be happy with.

Negotiate a Contract

Choosing a builder and negotiating a construction contract is one of the last administrative steps in building your home. Builders will subcontract with plumbers, electricians and other specialists to build your home from scratch, so choosing a reputable builder with good connections and competitive price offerings is essential. Whichever builder you choose, ask to see examples of past work in your area to give yourself an idea of the quality of the construction. Getting recommendations from family and neighbours can also help you make a choice you'll be comfortable with.

Supervise Construction

Once construction of your new home starts, your job isn't over. Make occasional trips to the construction site to ensure that your home is on schedule. This will also give you a chance to learn about how the house is constructed in case you decide to make repairs or add on to the house in the future.

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